I’m so tired of hearing Black people —especially the men — hate on Steve Harvey. Do I think the man is perfect? Of course not. Is his curtness slightly offensive? Occasionally. Does he fill a huge emotional void in the Black community? No doubt…a bankable one at that.
In case you missed the memo more than 40 percent of African-American households are headed by single women. This phenomenon didn’t start in the last decade; it’s been slowly festering over the last 30 years. The result is simple: You have a generation filled with people – not just women —who did not have males in their home. I’m the first to chorus kudos to the scores of mamas who were able to hold down the fort sans a man. You went above and beyond your call to duty. You’ve sacrificed tremendously. You’ve gone without sleep, food and sanity in order to do the impossible: Play a role you could never be cast in. No woman — cape and all — can fill the void of a man.
The absence of the “Black man” in the home has affected each gender differently. Many of our boys simply never found their way, and are still hobbling through life trying to digest feelings of rejection and gender role confusion, while grappling with a white male dominated society. Their task — the one of trying to figure out how to be a man without concrete male guidance, while watching their mamas and aunties do the things society says they should be doing — can be compared to trying to fry chicken without enough oil and no flour; you just know something essential is missing because things don’t come out right. We see their constant craving for testosterone-laced guidance evidenced in many ways, such rampant incarceration, emotional immaturity and lack of confidence. What we don’t see — or at least acknowledge — is their depression. They’re hurting. They’re lost. They’re stuck.
Then we have all the single ladies. Beyonce had it right with her “uh, uh, ohs” but for the wrong reason. Flying solo isn’t a sin. I’m tired of hearing Black women constantly being vilified as over-achieving, pushy b*tches who can’t hear the calls of all the good, single, married-minded Black men because they’re too busy making it rain on their bank accounts. People please. I know tons of sourpusses who get married —no matter whether they’re Black, white or tan. Some men love b*tches; people have written books about it. The bigger issue is that some Black women don’t know how to relate to Black men… and rope them into marriage. See, we’re taught how to coddle them when they underachieve, bone them when they can throw it, or even compete with them when they’re uber successful. But courting them, better yet, letting them court us? Not so much. That’s where Mr. Harvey comes in.
Black mothers have taught their daughters how to survive and thrive, but didn’t teach many of them how to date. How could they? Many of them were too busy to do it themselves. Sure they’d chide you for moving too quickly or comment about whether your new beau seemed worthy of you, but largely absent were the “rules”. Then there are the dads. Sadly, I have several friends who never grew up with men in their nuclear family. No ever told them they were beautiful without wanting a kiss, a feel or a…. well you know what I mean. More importantly, there was no one there to exemplify or utter how a man treats a woman he’s placed on the marriage track. So what did many Black women do? We made up our own rules and hoped our Gucci shades could hide the green-eyed monster engulfing us as our white and Asian cohorts came into the office celebrating their upcoming “I dos”.
So here’s the truth: Many Black women won’t be walking down the aisle tomorrow — I’m not selling the Brooklyn Bridge here ladies —but they can start adding a new strut in their step by declaring their own “I dos”. I do acknowledge that I can’t borrow some rules from the “Unofficial White Girl’s Dating Guide”, such as hooking up, and not administer the others, such as recognizing when it’s time to hunt down a hubby (they do!). I do realize that not having men around may have altered my perception of how to relate to them — and I vow to do better and be better. Lastly, I do realize that I am special simply because I am me, and the man who loves me will see it and chase it.
Personally, I thank Steve Harvey (and his writer Denene Millner) for attacking a major problem in our community. It doesn’t matter whether he’s had a perfect past, has a degree in psychology or that he is a comedian. What he does have is balls… to tell the truth. Apparently now they’re worth their weight in gold.